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National Library

National Library, Kolkata
The National library is situated at the Belvedere Estate, near Alipore Zoo in Kolkata.

About National Library
The National Library, India is the largest library in the country. Housed in the former residence of the Lieutenant Governor of Bengal, the library contains almost 2 million books and nearly half a million documents. It is an institution of National importance under the 'Department of Culture, Ministry of Tourism & Culture, Government of India'. The library is designated to collect, disseminate and preserve the printed material produced in the country, attracts almost a thousand readers every day.

According to popular belief, this building was not built by the British. Azim - Us-Shaan is believed to have constructed it in 1700 A.D. After the Battle of Plassey, Vanceytart got charge of this Bhawan. He was an Italian who named this mammoth building 'Belvedierre'. The word connotes 'the queen of beauty'. Lady Hastings was also the owner of this house for a short while. He sold it to Major Tulley in 1780, The modern day 'Tollygunge' in Calcutta bears memoirs of Major Tulley. However, this building was put to auction after the demise of Major Tulley in 1802. In 1850, the Govt. took charge of this palatial house. Some believe that Nawab Meer Zaffar had once stayed in Belvedierre Bhawan.

Established in 1836, the Calcutta Public Library is not a Government institution. Pyarichand Mitra had tenaciously worked behind it. This can easily be regarded as the foundation of the National Library. It became the official residence of the Lieutenant Governor of Bengal..

Lord Curzon officially inaugurated the Imperial Library on 30th January 1903, at the Metcalfe Hall i.e. at the junction of Hare Street and Strand Road.

In 1923, the Library was shifted to 6, Esplanade East from Metcalfe Hall. The erstwhile department for 'old papers' still lies in this building. Again in 1953, the Library was reshifted to Belvedierre Bhawan. It was then named as The National Library or Jatiya Granthagar.

C. Raja Gopalachari, the then Governor General of India, rendered this proposal of shifting the library to Belvedierre Bhawan. Maulana Abul Kalam Azad was the Education Minister of India at that time. He corroborated this proposal. Finally On 1st February, 1953, its doors were opened for public use.

The library has separate Indian language division for Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Malayalam, Marathi, Oriya, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu and Urdu Languages. Sanskrit language division also collects and process Pali and Prakrit books. English books published in India are also collected under D.B. Act.

Surprising Things in National Library
Around 18 thousand readers daily gather to accumulate knowledge on various subjects. The collection comprises about 20,00,000 books and 5,00,000 manuscripts. Its gigantic campus encompasses 130 acres of land. At present, the National Library is the 2nd largest public library in Asia for which several notable persons have donated their invaluable collections at different times. Sadar-Ud-ddin, the Zaminder of Buhor, Sir Ashutosh Mukherjee, Surendra Nath Sen etc. are some famous donors. These have added to the value and content of books in this prestigious institution.

Fact File
» Timing - 9 A.M. to 8 P.M
» Address - Belvedere, Kolkata-700027, West Bengal, India
» Phone No. - +91-33-2479-1381 to 1384

Display Objects
Rare books, valuable manuscripts of the pre-British and British days, original letters and notes of eminent personalities, Tamil manuscripts on Ashutosh collection: Rare Books from 16th century including limited and paintings on mica plates, etc. manuscripts and original letters of eminent personalities, rare and special bindings. illuminated eidtions, paintings including original water colour paintings, palm-leaves.

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